The unacknowledged thing
There’s something that’s gone unacknowledged throughout this entire crisis. It’s actually so huge and important, it’s hard to understand how it’s been missed. It’s not really an elephant in the room – not a case of something important being “unsaid”; I think it’s simply unseen.
There are so many insightful pieces being written by journalists and thinkers, so many analyses and critiques and inspiring philosophical takes. There is rich food for thought everywhere. But this one thing I’m not reading about anywhere.
Perhaps it’s me that’s out of step. For many years I’ve been bothered by the way the moral principles of global systems seem not to reflect what I know in my core is right. While individual humans seem to believe in the values of equality, fairness and the need to put the common good ahead of self-interest, the SYSTEM doesn’t operate like that.
Globalism only works because of inequality; businesses needn’t be fair because they’re competing to deliver the best returns to shareholders; consumers want lower prices, and the system is designed so we don’t have to think about the true cost of the things we consume. The negative impacts of capitalism are externalities for which no-one takes responsibility.
Maybe I’m too deeply mired in a jaded perspective.
And yet. There’s this:
What we’ve done, what the WORLD has done since January 2020, is prioritise something ahead of the system, ahead of the economy. Irrevocably. Almost without exception.
We’ve paused the machine to preserve human lives.
Have we ever seen a more visceral validation of our values on a global scale? Have we witnessed a more profound reason to hope for the future?
Humans, with all our consumerism and household debt and reliance on economic growth, have put it all on the line to preserve the lives of strangers. And if morality trumps the economy when it really matters, surely that means we can make the changes we must – beyond the current crisis.
Surely it means we can come together and build better, fairer, more sustainable ways of being on this extraordinary planet. Rather than shutting down our possibilities, this virus might be opening them up.